his student, Ravina, asked whether the rationale for this action was Rav Ashi’s interest in keeping the tefillin safe, the latter responded in the affirmative. Nevertheless, Ravina indicates that this was in fact not Rav Ashi’s true rationale, but rather that the mitsvah of tefillin continues into the night. Be’ur Halakha to O.H. sec. 30, no. 2, s.v. “ve-ni-mtse’u,” indicates that this is an example of halakha ve-ein morin kein. Rav Ashi’s misrepresentation was halakhically mandated, lest others follow his actions, put on tefillin, and fall asleep with them on. Note, however, that the above case is not a clear precedent for misrepresenting the rationale in cases of mi-gdar milta, for while Rav Ashi misrepresented the true reason for his action, the false reason was also valid and applicable.
Our final example appears in Mishna Avoda Zara (II:5; 29b; see also discussion on 35a). On being questioned by R. Ishmael as to the grounds for the prohibition on non-Jewish cheeses, R. Joshua presented several reasons which proved untenable upon analysis. The commentaries ad loc. make clear that R. Joshua was attempting to hide the true reason for the edict. From the talmudic discussion (ibid., 35a), it would seem that R. Joshua’s misrepresentation was halakhically mandated, lest the rabbinic decree become undermined. Interestingly, R. Solomon ben Aderet, Resp. Rashba, I, sec. 43 argues that R. Joshua knowingly suggested that non-Jewish cheeses were biblically forbidden when he knew full well that they were prohibited merely by rabbinic decree. This case might well serve, then, as a precedent for misrepresenting the rationale, even upgrading the prohibition, in cases of mi-gdar milta. Nevertheless, R. Moses Sofer, Hiddushei Hatam Sofer (Makhon Hatam Sofer, Jerusalem: 5736), Avoda Zara 29b, s.v. “Amar R. Yehuda” (also appears in Derashot Hatam Sofer, I, 78a, s.v. “Ita baMishna”) notes that the aforementioned Mishna surprisingly informs us that this discussion between R. Ishmael and R. Joshua occurred on the road. R. Sofer argues that R. Joshua misrepresented the rationale, specifically citing a biblical source, in order to cut highway discussion short and thereby prevent a potentially dangerous situation.
Some codifiers have suggested that in order to assure the acceptance of his decision, a decisor may falsely attribute his ruling to someone greater than he, provided he is absolutely convinced of its correctness. This is known in the halakhic literature as “le-hi-talot be-ilan gadol” (Eruvin 51a and Rashi, s.v. “Hitaleh”; Pesahim 112a; see also Pesahim 27a and Rashi, s.v. “Apkha veAtnayei”). See: Magen Avraham, O.H. sec. 156, no. 2 – and Eliya Rabba, Mahatsit haShekel, Pri Megadim, Mor uKetsia and Mahazik Berakha ad loc.; Tosafot Yom Tov and Tiferet Yisrael, Boaz, no. 2 to Avot V:7 s.v. “veAl ma she-lo shama omer lo shamati”; Birkei Yosef, Y.D. sec. 242, no. 29; Sefer Beit Aharon, IX, “Im bikashta lei-hanek,